Profile: Vivek Srivastava: The TV Buff

By Prachi Srivastava , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | April 23, 2015
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The SVP and head of English Entertainment Cluster, Times Television Network, speaks about his love for television, his experiences in the industry and the mentors who shaped his career.

A Lucknow boy, Vivek Srivastava came to Mumbai when he was in ninth grade. Like many boys his age, he too didn't plan for his career seriously till then. But, he always wanted to "do something related to numbers and statistics."

Vivek Srivastava

After acquiring his graduation degree, B.Sc in Statistics, Srivastava got an opportunity to work with Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) as a research executive.

"I used to help researchers at IMRB's Abacus division, to collate data from different countries, analyse and present it. Though I was there for a year, my home-ground was TAM, where I worked for around five years (2002 - 2008)," he says.

He joined TAM as a summer trainee and got hired eventually. He attributes all his learning and knowledge about media to TAM.

"I loved numbers and statistics, and wanted to do something related to it. I loved the fact that it had various applications across various fields. Also, I loved media. I still am a big consumer of television. The joke in the family is that, finally, my hobby can give me a job. So, that's what it is," he shares.

A fairly busy man, who is at the helm of two Times Television Network channels, he manages to watch TV - both English and Hindi - for at least an hour every day.

At TAM, Srivastava went on to become the director of S Group - the strategic division. "It gave me a lot of exposure. I met senior people and got a bird's eye view of the problems in the broadcast business. The width of problems and challenges that broadcasters throw up, helps an individual grow at TAM," he says.

His experience at TAM prepared him for his next role. He joined Rajesh Kamat who was working on launching Colors then. "He, for all purposes, has the best business brain in the country," Srivastava declares.

He joined the company as senior manager - research, and quickly rose to head the team, and also dabbled in buying movies for Colors. He recalls that, because Colors, as a start-up, was a close-knit company, he got the opportunity to try his hands at varied things.

"There were no boundaries. Colors let me move seamlessly from research to commercial, to international business and distribution, and then back to digital," he says.

There were challenges at different stages, especially in terms of scheduling. "We decided to put our biggest shows against the biggest shows on television at that time. 'Khatron Ke Khiladi' was scheduled in the same slot as 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi' and 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki'. That gamble paid off," he recalls.

He is also quick to point out what did not work. "There were also failures like 'Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina', but we had a plan B, and hence people just remember the good shows that followed," he reveals.

He attributes the success of Colors to "meticulous planning" employed at every level.

Srivastava considers Kamat as his mentor. He cherishes Kamat's words - 'quick decision making is what drives the broadcast business'. He believes a leader should have the acumen to decide what is right and wrong, and have the ability to take risks.

"It can't be a pure gut-based risk. You have to think it through, but one should not be wary of taking risks, as there is no set formula for success."

In all his broadcast stints till now, Srivastava says that the 'basics' have remained the same.

About his current role, he says, "The challenges are different here. The English genre is tough and competitive, and it is all about smart acquisition, segmentation and scheduling. Also, it's not about what you buy, but what you let go. It determines your library. That really has been the strength of Movies Now."

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